Life happens. We are all guilty of procrastinating on paperwork or forgetting to update records. While most of the time there are no consequences, that is often not the case with VA benefits.
There are any number of life events that can result in an overpayment to the VA, and these can result in changes in the amount of benefits you are entitled to receive.
It is important to let VA know whenever there is a change that could impact your benefits. Not keeping these records current can result in an overpayment. When discovered, those funds will be owed to VA, and those can often result in a deduction of the monthly benefit amount until the debt is repaid.
Some common overpayment situations are:
- A Veteran receives care at a VA medical facility and fails to pay a required co-pay
- A Veteran fails to report that a school-age child has married
- A Veteran receiving education benefits drops out of school
- A Veteran or beneficiary is incarcerated and benefits are reduced or terminated for the period of incarceration
- The Vocational Rehabilitation program purchased a service or tools for a Veteran, who then dropped out of the program without a good reason
- A Veteran or beneficiary receiving an income-based pension doesn’t report a change in income
- A Veteran’s change in marital status without notifying VA
- Death of a dependent without notifying VA
In some situations, VA receives information from other federal agencies about changes that could impact yours benefit. When this happens, a notice will be sent to the beneficiary explaining that a potential discrepancy was found, with a proposed reduction or discontinuance of benefits. Funds owed to VA are based on the date the event occurred, such as a change in dependents, which would have caused a reduction or discontinuation of benefits.
Beneficiaries who receive an indebtedness notice from VA stating that an overpayment has taken place have 60 days to submit a Notice of Disagreement with evidence stating why the overpayment information is incorrect. It is important to work with VA in this initial notification period before the debt moves to the next level.
After 60 days, if no response is received, the debt is turned over to the VA Debt Management Center for recovery. The center will notify the beneficiaries of the planned recovery method – either through a reduction in benefits, or a payment program. If the debt cannot be resolved, it will be turned over to the Department of the Treasury for forced collection.
In some cases, overpayments can be waived. Work with an accredited Veterans Service Organization representative to assist with the waiver process, or contact VA’s Debt Management Center for a repayment plan at 800-827-0648. Intentional fraud will not be waived.
Veterans and other beneficiaries should check their eBenefits account to make sure the information is correct, and they should report any information that should be updated as soon as possible. This can either be done on the eBenefits web portal, or by calling 800-827-1000.